Gillian Atkins, managing partner at Lynda Reeves Design Studio, spills the tea (and the numbers) on her budget-friendly kitchen makeover.
“I bought a century home in August 2020 for me and my three sons, Euan, 14, and twins, Oliver and Rhys, 12. It wasn’t pretty, but it had good bones — one of those coveted, diamond-in-the-rough construction projects. With a tight closing date, I had just three months to complete a renovation and move my family in. What could go wrong? Well, add a global pandemic, and my contractor Rob and I had our work cut out for us… not to mention that I’m a designer and my clients have to come first! A lot of the decisions for this reno were driven by what I was able to do quickly, efficiently and inexpensively — oh, and it had to look beautiful, too.”
Scroll down to see how she pulled it off!
“The existing kitchen was falling apart and only occupied one wall of the otherwise spacious ground floor. I reorganized the floor plan to create a bigger kitchen. First to go was the main-floor powder room (I know, I know — never rip out a main-floor bathroom, but this powder room was just a little too close for comfort to the kitchen). Not moving your plumbing or appliances is the first rule of keeping costs down, so I left them where they were. I knew I wanted a big island, lots of storage and no traditional upper cabinets, but the rest of the design unfolded organically.”
“When I saw the dark-stained
Ikea Lerhyttan door fronts with their Shaker-style rails, I knew they would contrast nicely with the new blond floors. I recently installed PurParket floors for a client and felt a pang of jealousy, so they became a must-have for my house. The beautiful wide-plank, European white oak engineered floors set a serene tone for the whole design. I chose a matte finish that hides a lot of sins — we’ve already smashed it up a couple of times, and the more nicks and chips there are, the better it looks. I knew I wouldn’t regret spending that money.
The lighting is from
Modern Komfort, a female-run retailer based out of New Brunswick. It’s my new favorite go-to for looking like you spent a million bucks, and it’s nice to support a Canadian company. In the evening, I just turn on the sconces for a soft glow.”
“Having a long, narrow island was my first priority. I wanted a place where all three boys could gather to hang out or dine. Now we have a nice, long surface with no cooktop or sink in the way — perfect for entertaining. Euan is a bit of a chef (lucky me), and he and I are often cooking together on the working side of the island while the twins perch on the stools awaiting his creations. When your kitchen looks good but also functions for everyone, it’s a huge victory.”
“The white oak shelf was a great alternative to traditional upper cabinets, and it’s an easy way to mask the transition from the backsplash to the wall above. I keep my everyday dishes in the 24-inch-deep drawers in the island, nearest the dishwasher.”
“If I had unlimited time and budget, I would have opted for custom cabinets. For those of us who don’t have either of those luxuries, thank goodness for Ikea! This is my third Ikea kitchen, and they’ve all served me extremely well, so I didn’t hesitate to install another one in my new house. Plus, with a few minor tweaks, it actually feels custom. Believe it or not, the black stainless appliances are Ikea, too.”
“The hacking of Ikea products is the worst-kept secret on the internet and also the best way to get more bang for your buck. A good millworker can modify Ikea pieces to elevate the look. We made the tall kitchen cabinets feel custom by running the side gables to the floor, recessing the toekick quite far back and finishing the top with full panels; even though you don’t see much of the panels, they complete the look nicely. I chose equal-sized drawers wherever possible to make the units feel more like furniture and, inside, I used
Ikea’s Variera bamboo flatware tray inserts, which are great for keeping things organized. When my math didn’t work out perfectly, my carpenter, Tom, made an open tray slot from the leftover gables ( see previous image) and, voilà, a custom fit. The drawers at the bottom of this cabinet are a lifesaver; they’re chock-full of snacks that are easy to access and hidden from view.”
“Puck lights on the underside of the oak shelf act as task lighting. The leather-wrapped cabinet hardware has brass tips on either end, which looks dynamite without costing a fortune.”
“I didn’t want to introduce any traditional stainless steel into the design, and this composite sink from
Blanco doesn’t mark. I like the idea of a white sink that blends in to a white counter, and it’s turned out to be really hard-wearing. The Brizo faucet was a splurge; its luxe gold finish isn’t too brassy and the shape is super cool. Fingers crossed, my boys don’t break it.”
“Finally, here’s my full budget breakdown.”
Author: As told to Wendy Jacob
House & Home April 2021